Prepare for a controversial design decision in today’s post. If you hate when people paint BEAUTIFUL natural wood pieces, then perhaps come back tomorrow – or ‘hate-read’ this post (which is what I would do). I remember in the 90’s, in the heyday of shabby chic, there was a huge trend of painting pretty pieces of furniture teal, then distressing it. This trend continued FAR too long on makeover shows and I hate-watched the whole time, with an ‘OMG PLEASE DON’T RUIN THAT PERFECTLY BEAUTIFUL PIECE OF WOOD FURNITURE’. And if I were to see it now I would generally say the same thing … except sometimes, and today is one of those times.
The victim in this case is this vintage pine dresser I found on Craigslist for $300 before we moved in. I loved the shape, finish, function, and sweet English country style. It was perfect. Sure, I didn’t have a place for it to go but I knew that it could go either in the living, entry area, or Charlie’s bedroom. Three pretty good options so I pulled the trigger.
It landed in the entry (we photoshopped it in this pic, since we didn’t have a good pic of it in there from before):
I loved how the curved shape helped keep the flow open. I loved the storage – the top drawer is our junk drawer and the bottom two house kid’s art and play dough. And the style. The shape, style, and function were all PERFECT. But it wasn’t right.
Three things about the space really bugged me –
- The fact that the dresser was the same color as the floor.
- I didn’t love the wood with the gold of the sconce – I wished one of those finishes were different.
- The entry is the only dark space in the whole house and I really felt like we needed something brighter in there.
When I found this piece (below) at Round Top I thought, ‘ooh, maybe it could go in the entry to help brighten it up and solve all three of those problems.’
But it was too perfect in the living room and the dresser couldn’t be in that spot because it’s too deep.
So a month ago I made a decision. The shoot for the house was in a couple days and while I wasn’t totally sure that we were going to shoot the entry, I was feeling motivated to just solve this problem. I had looked around for the perfect storage/entry piece in the perfect size/shape and color, but came up empty.
Around the same time there were a lot of comments about how I now just shop for the perfect piece, instead of the old renegade blog solution of ‘making it work.’ And I think there really is something to that – that having the budget and time to scour the world for the perfect, probably expensive piece is a luxury, while painting what you already have in your backyard in 2 hours is certainly doable for anyone.
Typically I would have had this professionally painted, but there was no finish on it, so it didn’t need to be stripped, just a light sand. Emily and Erik were already booked that day, prepping for the shoot so I was like ‘eh SCREW it’. Let’s just paint it.
To help rationalize, I gave myself a scenario – if I had found that exact piece, but in the perfect matte french blue would I buy it to replace this piece? And the answer was ABSOLUTELY.
So we ‘made it work.’
We sampled 5 different colors – two that we chose for that day and three that I had laying around that I knew I loved. They were 1. Portola ‘Sharkskin’ (Charlie’s room), 2. Portola ‘Wellfleet’ (which had been an option for Charlie’s room) 3. Farrow and Ball ‘Down Pipe’ (the trim of our house), and two Benjamin Moore colors, 4. Pike’s Peak Gray, and 5. Shadow Gray.
We painted two coats of each on cardboard and let them dry. Outside they looked WILDLY different than they would inside, so naturally we brought them to the exact space that we would put the piece. We needed to see it with the wall color (blackened) and the island color (which is directly behind and in view of the entry).
These photos above are not photoshopped so you can tell really how dark it is in there. I felt that the Down Pipe was too dark and kinda sucked the light even more. Wellfleet was too teal. Sharkskin felt kinda baby blue. So it was down the two that I had originally sampled.
Here they really seemed like they were going to pop off the wall enough … paint is so tricky, folks.
They were virtually identical, but we chose Pike’s Peak Gray because we liked it slightly more. We got it in a flat paint because we love that matte chalky look – it’s what is happening right now, folks. Oh and they bought the primer/paint in-one to avoid the process. We bought it at Jill’s Paint in Atwater Village because they are a lovely small business, with good customer service that we like to support.
I had to leave for meetings so Emily and Erik got to work. They sanded and painted and texted me photos:
When I got home my first thought was ‘SO MUCH BETTER’ and my second was ‘Hmmm… it could be darker.’ It could pop off the wall more. But I figured I’d wait ’til I got home and then live with it for a while.
So this is where we are now, it’s painted and we are living with it, and while I’m so glad it is no longer wood (truly) I do kinda wish it were slightly darker. We had tried to color match that blue french cabinet and while it’s very similar it could just go one shade darker.
Below you can see how dark the space is – the left isn’t brightened, the right is.
The rest of these have been slightly brightened, because putting in dark photos on the blog is emotionally and visually hard for us.
I think that shot (above) is the best representation of the space (although in real life it’s not as bright). You can see the kitchen/island behind it, which is a color that we need to work with. So we photoshopped in a few options for you:
The first one is what we already have. And I like it but it could pop off the wall more. The other three all are good, right? Hague Blue is what I painted my kitchen cabinets in our old house and it’s a great indigo (I don’t think it’s actually that dark – it’s hard to pull colors online and photoshop accurately). Newbury Port is what I painted my front door in the last house and I LOVED it – sophisticated but with a lot of happiness. And Cyclone is a good in between.
It’s another ‘Ask The Audience’. Which color?
You know that I love to admit a mistake, but I honestly like it so much better – not the piece itself, but how it works in our house. It took a while to get over the guilt and shame but again, I reminded myself that had my eyes not seen it as it’s natural wood, had I only found it in the perfect color, I would have bought it for that space. I did, in fact, just ‘make it work’ for us and I’m happy that I did. Now, lets make it the perfect color.
Are you upset it’s not wood anymore? Do you think I made a mistake? And if not, then what color should we re-paint it?